ATLANTA — The Georgia House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed an elections reform bill Wednesday that includes a provision aimed at avoiding a situation that happened in Albany in 2011.
State Rep. Ed Rynders, R-Leesburg, initially authored House Bill 939, which clarifies and changes existing state law so that a political candidate who is disqualified due to an accident or negligence can have his or her qualifying fee refunded.
The bill comes after Albany City Commission candidate Cheryl Calhoun was disqualified under state law when it was found that she had, unknowingly according to her, qualified to run in a ward in which she didn’t reside.
Calhoun contends that she initially wanted to run against City Commissioner Jon Howard in Ward I, but was told by elections officials that she lived in Ward II. When she then qualified and paid the fee to run in Ward II, it was found that she actually lived in Ward I and was therefore ineligible to run in the Ward II race.
Existing state law didn’t allow for the refunding of qualifying fees in that instance, a situation Rynders said he was glad to help remedy.
“Sometimes accidents happen. I wanted to see if we couldn’t fix it,” Rynders said Wednesday. “If an honest mistake is made, the law now will allow a candidate to be refunded the money that they spent on qualifying.”
HB 939 was rolled into a larger Elections Reform Bill Wednesday and voted on by the House. The bill passed 129-37 and will now head to the Senate for approval.
If the senate gives its OK on the measure, it will head to Governor Nathan Deal’s desk for his signature.